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I am not sure I have any words of wisdom, as I am constantly reading online. Typically, it is either to research a specific topic or keep up with what is trending to make sure we keep our posts current and relevant. I have a handful of online news and business resources that send me daily newsletters (although I still read the print version of The Wall Street Journal and the few magazines I read for pleasure), but have the self-discipline to ignore even the most enticing article titles if the topic is not relevant. Sometimes it requires speed-reading the opening paragraph or two, but if it is not worth my time, I can stop. I am one of those people who can start reading a book (or watching a movie) and decide there is no point in continuing. Years ago, I probably would have kept going hoping it would get better … but came to realize it rarely did and that my time was too important to waste.


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There's no way I'm as disciplined as Black, but I've learned to earmark time during the day to read whatever strikes my fancy. No excuses necessary. I just label that time as "brain breaks" as it's a great escape from whatever I'm working on. Plus, I tend to skim vs. reading an entire article. But if I come across something that I want to read in its entirety, I'll print it out and save it for either the evening or over the weekend. (When I used to chauffeur my daughter to volleyball practice, I was able to get through lots of these articles.)

But here's one thing that really seems to help – I subscribed to a few select newsletters (such Vanity Fair, The New York Times, and Texas Monthly) and when I want to take a break, I'll skim through the headlines on those vs. surfing the internet. That way I'm not tempted to read a bunch of things just because those magical algorithms make them pop up on my screen. And if something interests me, I can either read it then or save it for when I take a lunch break (well, really a quick bowl of cereal) or at night when I'll go back and have a look. The reality is that by the time I do that, and keep in mind at night I'm tired, so trying to get off the computer, not spend more time on it, most of the emails are either old news or things that now don't seem worth my time. So, I often just delete many of those emails!

FULL QUESTION: I gained weight during the pandemic, and now that I'm returning to the office, none of my clothing fits. Any suggestions?


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I'm not sure that I'm the best person to ask this question as I work from home. However, unlike my sister, who has mastered maintaining her weight, I sympathize with you completely because, like so many people, I've succumbed to putting on weight during the pandemic. My downfall? Comfort food. And although I've always loved that kind of home cooking, what really did me in wasn't what I prepared, but having second servings because it tasted so good.

So, I need to go back to my Weight Watchers days. I never felt like I was on a diet because I could eat anything I wanted, but developed better eating habits, including being aware of portion control and making smarter food choices. That, and kicking up my exercise routine a notch (or two or three) – whether it's morning weights, mid-day walks, and/or late afternoon bike rides.

Well, I guess I really didn't answer your question as to what you should do. But I realize that I've analyzed how I got in a similar situation and what I should do. Now I just need to do it!


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I am not going to tell Red that she is going through the logical sequence of change, but I will say that once many of us, Red included, understand WHY we are doing something, it is easier to do something about it. Just do not be too hard on yourself. And, be realistic.

Obviously, the pandemic caused isolation and anxiety, which resulted in more eating and less activity. And being able to work from home wearing "comfy" clothes did not help. But you are not alone, which explains why weight management businesses are doing so well. For example, gym memberships are up, and digital subscriptions at WW (what Weight Watchers is now called) are significantly higher from a year ago at this time.

Even if you are not ready to make drastic changes, you can start with small adjustments. Alcohol consumption increased (no surprise there), so maybe substitute low-calorie (or no-calorie) beverages, such as fruit-infused water instead of wine and cocktails. And, keep in mind short "office-friendly exercises" can also be done at home and can make a big difference. (Think: push-ups in a standing position against a kitchen counter or office desk or if you have stairs at home, putting away items immediately instead of accumulating them to minimize trips.)

One final thought … if you have to buy new clothes, keep it to a minimum and make sure they can either be altered easily or inexpensive enough that you do not mind giving them to a charity (such as Dress for Success or CareerGear).
Image on screen is from "What I Learned About Life When My Husband Got Fired!"


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Oh, there are more days than I'd care to admit that I'd be grateful if it was just my desk that had too much paper on it as I've been known to use my floor as a filing system. Really! And I've been known to lament about feeling like I'm drowning in paper on way more than one occasion.

So, what do I do? Well, after kicking myself that I've let things (once again) get out of hand instead of keeping on top of the paper clutter, I take a deep breath and remember the advice that Black gave me years ago. And although I initially resisted following her advice, once I gave in, I found it was the perfect (and easiest) way to turn a mountain of paper into manageable stacks. And since it's her "system", I'll let her explain it to you.


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All those words and Red provided only empathy – but no real advice. However, she brings up a good point in that paper will always accumulate, and we should strive to keep it from getting out of control … versus trying to control it "perfectly".

Now, in terms of the advice I gave Red, this is where our accountants would suggest that I refer you to our book, but I hate when people do that. Instead, I will refer you to the relevant excerpt that is available on this site, Too Much Paper – Not Enough Time.

But, here is a short version ("short" in terms of explanation, not the time it will take to make the piles shrink): take a handful of paper and begin to sort them into piles based on priority – immediate, this week, next week, next month, next lifetime. You will quickly realize that the majority of the items will be very low priority, such as reading, filing, or shredding. And, separating out the highest priority items will not only help you focus on them, but will reduce the stress of wondering if there is something important you are forgetting to do.


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I'm not a research geek, that's Black's area, but I've heard the phrase " retail therapy" and know that some people actually enjoy shopping. But I'm not one of them, and although I don't hate shopping, I'm definitely not a fan of online shopping. Plus, I think some things that are very difficult to shop for. Full stop. Like mascara. I wear minimal make-up but feel like I'm always in pursuit of the perfect, affordable mascara , which isn't helped by the endless magazine ads and the racks of mascara in the stores. Of course, some shopping's more of a necessary evil. For example, as a mom, groceries are never really ticked off a shopping list, so grocery shopping feels more like Groundhog Day.


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There was a time in my life that I shopped to offset boredom, but now I usually only shop when traveling or need something specific (I guess that makes me a " hunter" versus a "gatherer ") But there are three things I hate – truly hate – shopping for: jeans, bras, and cell phones.

Recently, I traveled to Nashville with my niece, and we decided to go jean shopping for her. Not only did it take getting her psyched-up to do so, but even the sales staff agreed how frustrating shopping for jeans can be – and we were at a store that specialized in a specific brand of jeans.

I am not going to get into my pet peeve about vanity sizing and the inconsistency of sizing across clothing brands and styles, or the many frustrations of bra shopping (although the linked article is amusing to read). And shopping for cell phones, and the need to keep up with technology, may explain why I still use a Blackberry Bold and a flip phone.